On January 24, 1848, James Marshall and Johann Sutter made a discovery that would transform the territory of California and bring about pandemonium in American society. The specks of gold that they discovered, while they may have hoped to keep secret, were anything but a secret.
By the 1830s and 1840s, slavery had become engrained in the American legal system, enjoying protections and safeguards against its abolition and ultimately ensuring its continuation.
Under President Andrew Jackson, and his successor President Martin Van Buren, there was mass removal of Native Americans westward across America.
By the end of the War of 1812, President James Madison had weathered what is likely one of the tumultuous years that any president has had to endure. The British had landed a force, marched on Washington, D.C., and burned the White House. President Madison had trusted his Secretary of War John Armstrong when he doubted the possibility of a British invasion, only to be caught off guard when a scouting party, led by Secretary of State James Monroe, located just how close the British were to Washington. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 63-64.
In the first years of the American Republic, there were drastic changes in the law. The importance and organization of laws were coming into place. At the top were constitutional rights, which, as James Cannon explained “must be protected and defended ‘as the apple of your eye’ from danger ‘or they will be lost forever.'” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 293 quoting James Cannon, “Cassandra,” Apr. 1776, Force, ed., American Archives, 4th Ser., V, 1094, quoting from Hulme, Historical Essay, 143-44. Cannon continued, stating that constitutional rights must be set “on a foundation never more to be shaken,” meaning that constitutional rights “must be specified and written down in immutable documents. Id.
By the time of the Revolution, the states had begun to take steps toward sustaining themselves after independence from Britain was effectuated. One of those steps was the drafting of constitutions. Constitutions, while understood generally in Britain and elsewhere, had a unique meaning for Americans.